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Title: Too Far From the Start [Part 11/?] (a.k.a. James & Logan are NOT Dating)
Disclaimer: Still not my boys, although I kind of love them like they were.
Pairings/Characters: James/Logan
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~10,000 for this part (longest chapter yet :|)
Warnings: awkward conversations...I think that's it?

Summary: James wants to be prepared for his date with Logan, while Logan continues to be oddly specific about their relationship.

Previous chapters: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Author's Notes: Okay so this update has taken me a month and I can't apologize enough :\ I had so much trouble with this chapter; I don't know what was going on.

But it's done now! And a million thanks to [ profile] shisou_eimin, without whom this chapter would have sucked, if it ever got finished at all. She listened to me whine about it and gave me ideas and encouragement and convinced me it was ready to be seen by the public. slkdf;j Thank you forever ♥♥♥

Again, sorry for the delay, and I hope it's worth it at least? ♥

Part 11: The Dissent

James won the race, of course, though not by as much as he would have if he hadn't been distracted every time Logan managed to get ahead of him. When they reached the studio they didn't stop running until they got to one of the lounge areas, James waiting the few seconds it took for Logan to catch up before they both collapsed on the floor, out of breath and panting.

"I win," James forced out between attempts to refill his lungs.

More heavy breathing and the sound of James's heart pounding until Logan finally came back with "Shut up." James grinned, at his victory and the way Logan sounded all breathless like that.

For a few moments all of James's attention was occupied with watching Logan's chest rise and fall as he tried to catch his breath, but then Kelly's voice interrupted.

"Woah, what happened to you guys?" she asked from somewhere above and off to the side.

"You don't even wanna know," Kendall answered her, and from his tone James could just picture the look on his face. He tried not to laugh.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Logan said, his voice not quite back to normal yet. Then he turned his head to look at James. "What did you tell him?"

"Nothing!" James answered innocently. Which…wasn't exactly true, but. That text had been strictly between him and Kendall.

"Well get up, boys," Kelly told them, apparently deciding not to get into the middle of that. "You've got a lot of catching up to do. Kendall and Carlos are having a short break, so you two get in the sound booth and we'll start making up for lost time."

James hopped to his feet quickly so he could turn around and help Logan up as well. Logan looked at him suspiciously but still grabbed the hand held out to him, letting James tug him up off the floor. But when James tried to pull him in close Logan darted away.

"On our way, Kelly," he said, glancing back at James as he headed for the recording booth.

James was about to follow—only a little begrudgingly—when he was stopped by the sudden appearance of Carlos.

"Dude! How was the audition?!"

"How do you think?" James answered. "They loved me, of course. And your advice? Awesome."

"Really? Haha!" Carlos beamed, and clapped James on the back. "So you're gonna be in a movie then, right?"

"Well, they haven't said yet, for sure. But I'm telling you, I rocked that audition."

"All that practice came in handy, huh?" Carlos wagged his eyebrows a little. The gesture looked…kinda weird, on him. "Dude," he went on before James could answer, and then made some loud sniffing sounds. "Why are you all sweaty?"

James laughed as Kendall said "Don't even ask him that, Carlos."

"What, why?" Carlos looked at Kendall, then back at James. "Ohhh, were you and Logan getting all hot and heavy in the car?"

"Dude!" Kendall said, sounding offended. "My sister was in that car!"

"Well I'm sure they waited for her to leave first," Carlos said. "Right James?"

Before James could open his mouth to speak ('of course we did,' was what he was planning on), Kelly started talking again.

"Wait, what?" she said, looking at all of them. "What does Carlos mean about James and Logan?"

"Oh they're like a thing now, Kelly," Carlos answered brightly.

James wasn't sure if that was true; he and Logan had a thing, but he didn't know if they were a thing. He wasn't going to argue the point, though.

"What? Wait, no, we'll talk about this later," she said, shaking her head. "James! Get in the sound booth!" She pointed down the hallway, and James sauntered away to do as he was told.


Recording with just Logan in the booth with him was interesting. It wasn't the first time, of course, but it didn't happen very often. And this was the first time since they'd made out, so it was different.

And distracting. James was usually great about focusing on his singing, but that run from the Palm Woods had gotten them both sweaty and now the whole sound booth smelled like sweat and—that should have been gross, right?

But it kind of just made James want to push Logan up against one of the walls and kiss him really hard. If they were going to be sweaty anyway it should at least be for something fun.

James was having too much trouble worrying about his own ability to concentrate to pay any attention to Logan's, but Gustavo seemed to be yelling at both of them about equally so James figured at least he wasn't the only one affected by the close-quarters-togetherness.

Eventually Kendall and Carlos came back and Gustavo gave up, sending all four of them to practice the song some more before they tried recording again. Being in a larger room and around the other guys made it easier for James to focus, but he still kept glancing over at Logan unintentionally.

"Do we need to separate you two?" Kendall finally said, snapping James away from staring at Logan while he sang. It wasn't even James's part; he was totally allowed to be watching.

"Why?" James asked him.

"Because you're obviously too—"

"Maybe we should take a break?" Logan said, cutting off whatever Kendall had been about to say.

"NO! NO BREAKS!" Gustavo's voice boomed at them. They all looked at him through the glass, and there was silence for a few seconds.

"But I really gotta pee," Carlos said, and when James glanced at him he was making a face like he did really need to go.

More silence, while they watched Kelly and Gustavo argue. Then, "Fine, Carlos can go to the bathroom!" Gustavo told them.

A second later and the rest of them were saying they needed to pee too, and eventually he caved and gave them a 5-minute bathroom break.

James figured he could use at least three of those minutes kissing Logan.

Except when they all shuffled into the bathroom Logan hesitated for only a second before ducking into one of the stalls. James frowned at the closed door, then realized Carlos apparently did have to pee—didn't they have a break like…not a long time ago?—so he had to wait for Carlos to be done and for him and Kendall to leave before he could…stand around awkwardly.

Luckily Logan emerged from the stall then. He looked around, saw James and then froze—for about two seconds before he backed into the stall again. But James reacted quick enough to make it in time before the door was locked, forcing himself inside and looking down at Logan as he maneuvered around the door and closed it behind him.

"…Why are you hiding from me?" he asked, curiosity with a hint of confusion in his tone. "Is that the whole reason you came in here? You were just waiting for me to leave?"

"I…maybe?" Logan said, glancing up, his face turning red.

James laughed, although he wasn't sure this was exactly funny. "But why?"

"I don't know!" Logan threw his hands up as well as he could in the cramped space. "You kept staring at me out there and just—I didn't know what you were planning when we got away from the others!"

James considered this for a second, and managed to ignore his immediate desire to grab Logan and kiss him. Instead he leaned back against the door, reaching out for Logan and pulling him in closer. Logan went surprisingly easily, not even trying to swat away the hands at his waist, but he kept his gaze down.

"You're not even gonna look at me?" James said, trying to make his voice soft, but he was feeling sort of tingly all over so it wasn't easy.

"I said no more inappropriate touching until I say so," Logan muttered, but James could tell by his voice he was feeling tingly too.

"Yeah but that was just so you could figure stuff out right?" James reasoned. He could use logic too. "And now you've figured it out. You waaaant me."

Logan chuckled, and finally lifted his head to meet James's eyes. "That doesn't mean it's appropriate for us to be making out in the bathroom."

"We're not making out in the bathroom. Yet."

Logan lifted an eyebrow at him and it took every single ounce of willpower James possessed—and hey, he has a lot of willpower, thank-you-very-much; self-control was another issue entirely—to not kiss him then. But he was going to let—make?—Logan give in first. Although their five minutes were probably just about up.

So James tightened his grip on Logan's waist and maintained eye contact—all that practicing months ago had paid off—until finally Logan's hands came up to rest on James's arms, close to his shoulders (and James hoped Logan really had just been standing and waiting in that stall because ew, bathroom hands), and they stayed like that for a few more seconds, watching each other. Then Logan made the sort of face that normally accompanied a 'Screw you, James' before he leaned up for a kiss.

And James hadn't realized until now how much he'd missed kissing Logan. This one wasn't like the others, either; this was the first kiss James hadn't orchestrated or initiated or stolen. This was Logan, without any sort of outside influence, kissing James. In a bathroom, but the details weren't important.

Well at least those kind of details, anyway. Other details, like the way Logan's hands moved up to grip either side of James's neck, and the way Logan's tongue poked at James's lips, sort of tentatively until James opened his mouth and then there wasn't a hint of hesitation, and the way Logan leaned in a little closer as James's arms wrapped around his waist…those were important.

Kissing Logan was so different, and so much better than all the other kissing James had done. James didn't really know why but it didn't really matter, did it? He knew, at least, it wasn't just that Logan was a guy. When he had gone on that date with what's-his-name the making out had been fun, but mostly it made him even more determined to kiss Logan again.

James forgot all about their time limit—and it didn't seem like he was the only one—until there was the sound of a swinging door and then Kendall's voice was calling to them. "Hey guys, zip your pants up and get back out here, Gustavo's getting pissed."

Logan broke the kiss at that, but luckily didn't jump away (one because James liked him staying close, and two because he would probably have tripped on the toilet or something and that would have been all kinds of bad). He did look at James though, suspicion, confusion and a blush covering his face. "Zip our pants up? James what did you tell him?!"

"Nothing!" James repeated yet again, eyes wide in a most likely futile attempt at innocence. "We should probably go, right?"

James reached behind him to open the door, moving Logan out of the way until he had enough space to slip through. Logan followed silently, though James could feel him glaring at the back of his head.

When they got out of the bathroom Kendall was waiting for them, and looked them up and down sort of critically. Maybe he was making sure all of their clothing was in place. "He wants us in his office," he finally said, eyes narrowed, before turning around and leading the way.

They joined Carlos in Gustavo's office and sat down, then waited for the yelling to start.

"Before you dogs get the chance to mess up my song again," Gustavo began, "there's some stuff we need to tell you."

"First," Kelly said, smiling, "you have an interview on Sunday."

The flash of excitement in the room was cut short by Carlos saying, "But wait, that's usually our day off."

"Ooh, can we have Saturday off instead?" James asked immediately.

"What, do you have a hot date or something?" Gustavo sneered.

"As a matter of fact I do," James replied smoothly. Logan turned to look at him, an odd expression on his face, and James started to worry a little. Were they not supposed to talk about this with Kelly and Gustavo? James had just assumed they would be told about any secret dates…

Or not secret? James was still unclear about that.

"Oh is that when you and Logan are seeing the play?" Carlos asked.

"Carlos!" Logan said sharply. Oops. Apparently they weren't talking about this with them.

"And that's another thing," Kelly said, her smile gone as she looked from James to Logan and back again. "What's this about James and Logan dating?"

"We're not dating!" Logan nearly shouted, lurching forward in his seat. Then he settled back a little. "We are going on one date. There's a difference."

"Yeah, no you're not," Gustavo said flatly.

"What?" James asked, and it sounded like Kendall had asked too.

"You—" Gustavo pointed at James, "and you—" he pointed at Logan, "are not going on a date."

"Since when does Logan even like boys?" Kelly asked. James glanced at Logan to see him blushing.

"Since James," Carlos answered brightly.

"Carlos," Logan said, dropping his face into his hand.

"What do you mean they're not going on a date?" Kendall asked, and he had that you-don't-own-us tone that usually ended well but never had a pleasant way of getting there.

"I meeeaaaan," Gustavo shot back, "that two members of Big Time Rush CAN'T DATE!"

"Uh, yeah they can."

"It would be a public relations nightmare, Kendall," Kelly said, while James was starting to feel a weird tightening in his chest. This wasn't supposed to happen; once Kendall and Carlos were on board no one was supposed to tell him this thing with Logan couldn't happen except Logan.

And James wouldn't have accepted it from Logan, either.

"We can keep it a secret," James heard himself blurt out. He really didn't want to. Secret romances were…kind of a cool idea, but it was already really hard to not grab Logan's hand in public or say things to make him blush.

"Suuuuure you can, James," Gustavo drawled with a look of pure disbelief.

"We can!" he insisted.

"They can!" Kendall started saying even before James was finished. "And you can't tell them who they can't date, Gustavo."

"What does Logan have to say about this?" Kelly asked suddenly, and all eyes in the room turned to him. He seemed to shrink in his chair a little.

"Logan," James said, trying to meet his eyes. Logan looked over at him, and James wanted to smile but there was real worry coursing through him now. "Logan tell them."

The silence that followed filled up the room and seemed to go on forever, until finally Logan gave a little half-smile. "We can keep it a secret."

Relief flooded through James. "See?" James and Kendall said simultaneously, turning back to face the two adults.

"If Logan says they can, they can," Kendall added.

"We can," James repeated confidently, nodding.

"I don't care," Gustavo said. "It's still NOT HAPPENING!"

After that things kind of became a blur to James, as Kendall and Gustavo had one of the most heated arguments he'd ever seen between the two of them. James wasn't sure he'd ever loved Kendall as much as he did in that moment, watching him fight so hard for his best friends and their first date.

James didn't really know how the argument ever got resolved, but somehow in the end—as always—Kendall came out on top. There was something about guidelines and appropriate behavior but James figured Logan was listening to all that crap and could choose to explain it to him later or, better yet, ignore it completely.


They stayed pretty late at the studio that day, trying to record the song but mostly failing, and also going over potential interview questions for Sunday. For some reason Gustavo was always worried they would give wrong answers in interviews.

One of the things they went over was the 'correct' answer for James and Logan if they were asked that most popular of interview questions: are they currently dating anyone?

They were supposed to say no, which…might be a lie and might not be. James was aiming for Friday or Saturday for their date, and if things didn't go well enough Logan might decide not to give James another chance and so by Sunday he might be totally single.

The question brought back that rush of insecurity James had been feeling on and off since this date thing became a definite, and it wasn't at all helped by Logan's response of "Well of course we'll say no, because we're not dating. It's one date!"

Because, the thing was…James kind of wanted it to be more than one date. Sure, he needed to get through the first one first to be sure, but he was pretty confident this could be a real-relationship-type-thing. James had never had one of those before, but.

The way he saw it, things had never worked out with girls for more than one or two dates because when he actually started finding stuff out about them he never liked them as much as he did when he just had to look at them. The girls he did like always seemed to become his friends—or would rather date one of his friends, whatever—and so there was no point even thinking about trying the boyfriend-and-girlfriend thing with them. And then the one date he had been on with a guy…aside from the too-fancy restaurant (which James could totally get used to, don't get him wrong) that had actually been a lot of fun, and James had a lot in common with what's-his-name, but overall the only advantages it had over a night hanging with the guys was that with what's-his-name James could be flirty, and there was the high probability of making out at some point during the night.

But James could be flirty with Logan. Plus Logan was a way better kisser than that guy had been, and it wasn't like making out was something that got old after awhile. (With Logan there was like, a less than zero chance of that ever happening.) And James had known Logan for most of his life, and the whole time he'd just been liking Logan more and more, not less and less.

So maybe James didn't have any real experience being a boyfriend, but he was kinda sure he wanted to try it now. He had a good feeling this could work, and be pretty awesome. He just had to get Logan on board, and to do that he had to make sure this was the best damn date Logan had ever had in his life.

And to do that James needed experience and information.


James had plenty of experience dating girls, there was no questioning that. But guys were a different matter, and considering his…slightly imperfect record of success with asking them out, he figured he should take what opportunities he was given.

So he'd already called that shop-guy—Nathan, he should really try to remember that—and set up a coffee date for Thursday afternoon. And on Monday and Tuesday he had tried his best to flirt with strangers before his scene run-throughs with Camille in the evenings. He'd actually gotten a phone number out of that too, but the guy wasn't free for a date until next week and by then it would be too late.

So unless he could find someone to take out this evening, he would have two dates under his belt by the time the weekend rolled around. Two. That was nothing. How could he expect to show Logan a good time on that much experience?

When they were finally released from the studio James was intending to head back on his own and find a cafe or something for a last-ditch dating effort but he got a text from Camille that changed his mind.

'Hey James where are you guys! I'm home from work and I want to hear all about your audition!'

He sent her one back saying they were on their way, then piled in the car with the rest of the guys. And immediately latched onto Logan's hand, because he could and he liked to.

"Aww, you guys are so cute," Carlos said, only half-teasing.

"James you really need to learn to not do that," Logan sighed, but he didn't pull his hand away.

"Yeah, I just got through arguing you can keep this whole thing a secret," Kendall added, eyeing them in a leaderly manner.

"There's no one to keep it a secret from in the car," James pointed out.

"But we need the practice," Logan reasoned. James pouted persuasively at him for a moment and he let out another short sigh. "We can practice later."

James grinned, Carlos laughed, but Kendall didn't look happy. "Logan, you can't just give in like that! Look, if you guys want to do this whole dating thing—"

"It's one date, Kendall," Logan interrupted. It made James sad again, but he tried not to show it. He could convince Logan to make it more than one. If only he could get just a little more practice in first…

His phone beeped again and he checked the new text. 'Cool come find me when you get here! And bring a smoothie!'

James smiled at the text and then a thought hit him. Camille! Of course! She was the best person to ask for advice on dating Logan. That was the other thing James needed, anyway: information. On what Logan liked to do on dates, on what he looked for in a relationship-type-person. Plus she had been on more dates with guys than he had, so even if he didn't have his own experience to count on he could ask Camille to share hers. And since she had dated Logan her experience was worth more anyway.

The rest of the short car ride James kept his grip on Logan's hand while Logan and Kendall discussed—argued, whatever, James wasn't really listening—the finer points of whatever Kendall had argued with Gustavo about. Again, James could trust Logan to fill him in on the stuff he needed to know later. Right now James had more important things to worry about.


James found Camille by the pool, but when she reached out for the smoothie he was handing her he held it up, out of her reach. "You need to come with me," he said, waving the smoothie a little.

She glared at him, but she was smiling. "You're in a good mood, so I'm guessing the audition went well?"

He grinned. "Come with me and I'll tell you."

Camille laughed. "Where are we going?" she asked as she stood up.

James looked around before answering. "Somewhere we can talk," he said, eyebrows high, putting as much emphasis on the word as he could.

"Wow James, that sounds like some sort of euphemism when you say it like that."

He blinked. "You-fuh-what?"

"Nothing," she said with a chuckle. "A week ago I would have been concerned but now I know exactly what you want to talk about, so…my apartment?"

James shrugged. "Sounds good to me," he told her as he handed over her smoothie before taking a sip of his own.

When they were settled on the couch in Camille's living room she said "Okay, we'll get into the whole Logan issue in a minute, tell me about your audition! I asked the casting director about it today but he wouldn't tell me anything."

"You asked about me?" James's eyes were wide with shock.

"Of course I did! I told them you should audition in the first place, of course I wanted to follow up. So tell me how it went!" She poked him in the arm.

James beamed before forcing it down into a smug grin. "It was great. I was great."

"What did they have you do? Were you doing the scene with anyone? They still haven't figured out who's playing Felix, but they had auditions earlier this week so they're narrowing it down now, I think."

"It was pretty much just a read-through, like we practiced. It was kind of weird just standing there like that but I did a good job. I think. Then they wanted to know a little bit about me, so I told them I'm James Diamond and I'm in the band Big Time Rush and I really love that they're including these characters in their movie and also I have washboard abs."

Camille looked horrified. "Oh James you didn't."

"Didn't what?" he asked around his straw.

"Didn't tell them about your washboard abs!"

"Oh." He swallowed a mouthful of smoothie. "Sure I did, why wouldn't I?" Those had been the reason he got a role for his first acting audition all that time ago. But since he never told Camille about getting the part, she wouldn't know that…

She gave him a look that he couldn't read. "At least tell me you didn't show them your abs?"

"I didn't," James said. He had kind of wanted to but he was getting nervous again at that point so he wasn't sure if he should.

Camille sighed. "Good. Was that it? Did they ask you anything?"

"They wanted to know what I thought of Felix and Oliver's relationship."


James had to think to remember what he'd said. "I said I thought it was sad how Felix has to leave, but Oliver understands and doesn't hold it against him, and I like to think one day they'll meet again, even if the dialogue says they won't."

"Aww, that's a cute answer, James," Camille said with a smile. "Did they ask you about the kiss?"

"Oh yeah! They wanted to know if I was okay with it. I told 'em it was no problem, that I'd practiced that part of the scene too, and that I'm bisexual anyway."

Camille blinked. "Wow."


"I dunno, I'm just…kind of impressed. You're not fooling around with this, are you?"

"With what?"

"The whole being bi thing. A lot of people in your position wouldn't be so open about it."

"You mean like Logan," James said, and he tried to be casual about it but the sympathetic look Camille gave him meant he'd failed.

"So what's up with him?" she asked. "He trying to back out of your date?"

"No." James shook his head. "I'm just…" He stopped. How was he supposed to even say this? It was bad enough he'd had to ask Camille for help in getting a date in the first place, now he had to ask her how to make Logan happy on one too?

"Having trouble figuring out what to go see?" she asked. "I can help if you want."

"Really? That would be awesome!"

Camille smiled, and a few minutes later they were staring at her laptop screen while she searched for plays running that weekend.

"Thanks for helping me with this, Camille," James told her as she read over summaries.

"You're welcome, James."

"Um, but…actually, this wasn't what I was wanting to talk to you about."

She glanced over at him. "No? Then what's going on?"

James furrowed his eyebrows and leaned back on the couch. "I have a date tomorrow."

"With who?" Camille sounded surprised.

"Remember that guy from the clothes shop we went to?"

There was no answer for a few seconds, and finally James looked at her. She was giving him another unreadable look, but she didn't look happy.

"You called him?" she finally asked.

"Yeah. Logan told me to."

Camille's mouth fell open. "What?"

"Well, at least he kind of…said that I should? Or I could? Or…something. Anyway I'm doing it for Logan."

"How exactly do you figure? And why would he say that?"

"He said it would make it less scary?"

Camille's face softened a bit. "Oh." Then she shook her head. "Oh, Logan…"

"But yeah, so like…I've only been on one date with a guy, so I figured I should, you know, get some more experience before me and Logan go out."

"So that's why you called him? Because you want more dating experience?"

James nodded. "But that's still not enough! Two dates isn't anything. But I don't have time for more. And if I try to wait another week for Logan he probably will try to back out. So," he said with a sigh, "can you help me?"

"Um…help you with what, James?"

Wasn't it obvious? "You know, lend me your dating-guys expertise," he explained, waving an arm for emphasis. "Your dating-Logan expertise."

Camille gasped, and this time he recognized her expression of disbelief. "You're kidding, right?"

It took a second of blank staring for James Diamond to realize—not for the first time in his young yet extraordinary life—that he was an idiot.

He jumped off of the couch and spun to face Camille, waving his smoothie around wildly. "Logan's your ex-boyfriend!"

Ignoring the look she gave him—half surprise and half 'duh'—he went on: "And I'm going on a date with him! And and you and me are friends! I'm probably breaking some sort of code or something!"

Camille chuckled and raised her eyebrows at him. "What are you talking about?"

"You know, a code! We have an ex-girlfriend code but not an ex-boyfriend code and I don't even know if it counts 'cause it's you and not one of the guys but I probably should have figured that out before I asked Logan out and—wait, you told me to ask Logan out!"

James finished his rambling with a finger pointed at Camille. She blinked at it, then smiled. "I did tell you to."

He blinked back. "So…it's okay, then? That me and Logan are…y'know."

"Of course it's okay. You two like each other, right?"

"Yeah, but…" James looked at Camille critically. "Do you like Logan?"

Her smile faltered a little. "Not like I used to," she said, then looked down at her laptop screen.

James frowned and settled back on the couch next to her. "But…" he trailed off, not really sure what to say.

A second later Camille sighed. "Logan was my first boyfriend, okay? He was the first guy to even ask me out. I was crazy about him. But he broke up with me a year ago, and whatever sort of weird on-again off-again thing we had going on has been off for a really long time now. He has no interest in me now, except weirdly when I'm in character as Milla, but that's not real. Not like the way he feels about you."

James sat still for a moment as he tried to process this. It was making his chest feel funny; both that he could be accidentally hurting Camille, and what she had said about Logan's feelings for him. Plus, thinking back, James had sort of been the reason they broke up in the first place, so that didn't help—not that he was going to mention that.

"But…" he said again, quietly, then looked over at her. Should he ask this? He had to, right? "But do you still like him?"

Camille looked back at him, and they stared quietly at each other until she shrugged. "Maybe a little?"

The words felt like a punch in the gut. "Then, then why did you—"

"James," she said, cutting him off. "Logan and I are done, okay? It doesn't matter how I feel if he doesn't return the feelings. And it's not like I'm in love with him or anything, it's just…" She shrugged again. "He's cute, and he's smart, and like I said was a lot of firsts for me. Any feelings I have right now are mostly just residual."

James blinked in confusion at her. "They're leftovers," she clarified with a smile. "James, I'm happy for you two, okay? You're both my friends and I can see how much you care about each other. And you're adorable together. Frustrating, but adorable."

"Okay," James said, carefully. "But, you know…you're like, my best girl…type…friend-person, and I don't want you to be mad at me." He gave her his best 'don't hate me' look.

She laughed and rewarded him with a bright smile. "I'm not mad at you, James. I just…can't give you any advice, I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay," he reassured her. "Um, sorry I asked. But uh…are you still gonna help me find a play for us to see?"

"Shouldn't Logan be involved in that decision?"

James made a face as he thought about it. "I guess. He'll want to pick some smart-person play, though. I should have some ideas first so I can persuade him."

Camille chuckled and they both turned their attention back to the computer, James trying not to let this new information add to his insecurities about this date. It did suck that he couldn't count on Camille for Logan-info, though…maybe he could ask Kendall? They were roommates, maybe Kendall had some sort of insight into—

James stopped that thought midway through, not knowing where it was headed and not at all wanting to know.

He would get what he could out of his coffee date, and then for the real one he'd just have to wing it. Good thing James was awesome at that.


When James returned to the apartment he found his three friends sprawled on the couch watching a hockey game. They all glanced up at him but Logan held his gaze and sort of smiled, and James felt himself grin in response. That made Logan blush faintly, which in turn caused that awesome fluttery feeling in James's chest.

"Hey, where's your laptop?" he asked Logan, leaning against the kitchen counter.

"Um, in my room, I think? Why?"

James raised his eyebrows and tilted his head, motioning in the direction of the bedrooms. Logan looked startled for a second before he shook his head, the movement limited but quick, a clear 'no way.' James pouted at him and he did it again, more slowly.

"My mom's home, you guys," Kendall said.

"Huh?" James asked, not sure why he'd announced that out of nowhere.

"Just letting you know, before you sneak off to my room to do…whatever."

"It's Logan's room, too," James pointed out.

"And we're not sneaking off anywhere," Logan added. "James, if you want my computer go get it."

"But what if I can't fiiiind it?"

"I can help you, James," Carlos offered.

"No, it's fine," James said with a sigh. "I'll go look myself." He gave Logan an expression that was a carefully constructed mix of disappointment, frustration, and 'you don't know what you're missing out on'-ness before heading for the hallway.

When James stepped into Logan and Kendall's room he had an idea. The laptop was sitting on Logan's desk, but James left it there and instead settled on Logan's bed. Eventually Logan would come to see what the holdup was, right? And then they could continue where they'd left off in the bathroom at the studio.

Except sitting on Logan's bed was boring. James should have gotten the computer first; at least he could have played around on the Internet or messed with that weird clicky-box game with the numbers that sometimes turned into bombs and exploded. (James had a vague memory of Logan trying to explain that game to him when they were kids, but it didn't make any sort of sense and there had never been a second attempt. Sometimes James used to watch Logan play; he seemed to be really good at not making the little boxes turn into bombs so James figured that must have been the point, though it was more fun when they exploded.)

Getting up would have been a lot of work, though, and plus if James got the computer himself Logan might just turn around and leave when he saw he had it. James wanted Logan to have to pick it up, to force him into the room. So James didn't move, and after a few moments of excruciating boredom—seriously, there wasn't even a mirror somewhere at the right angle for him to stare at himself or anything—he decided to practice the song they were supposed to have recorded that day.

After a minute or two of singing, his patience paid off when a face appeared around the edge of the doorway. Logan grabbed the door frame with one hand and gave James a 'what are you doing' look, which James returned with a smile as he continued to sing. Logan pointed at his desk and the computer sitting in plain sight on top of it, but James just shrugged. Finally Logan rolled his eyes and walked over to the desk.

Just as Logan's hands were reaching for the laptop James jumped off of the bed and was behind him in an instant, hands on Logan's waist as he leaned in to sing another couple of lines softly in Logan's ear.

"James," Logan said, warning. James grinned and wrapped his arms fully around Logan, drawing him in a little closer.

"What, did you not want me to stop?" he asked, voice low and still next to Logan's ear. "I can keep singing."

James felt Logan shiver against him, and watched his hands flex on the edge of the desk. "James, the door is open," he said, but didn't try to move away.

"Mm, I can fix that," James replied, and as much as he didn't at all want to let go of Logan the lure of where this might be headed if he closed the door first was too strong to resist. So James drew his arms away slowly, then kissed Logan on the back of the neck before turning around and taking a few long strides to the door. By the time he'd gotten it closed and turned back around, though, Logan was facing him, clutching the laptop to his chest.

"What were you wanting this for, anyway?" he asked, face red. He was just barely making eye contact.

James stood by the door for a moment, considering his next move. It was always better to make Logan come to him, right? "Camille was helping me look up plays," James said, and started heading back to the bed. "But we need to make a final decision and get the tickets and everything."

He resumed his spot on Logan's bed, back against the wall, and patted the blanket next to him. Logan stared at the empty spot blankly.

"I told Carlos he could help us pick," he said finally, looking up at James with an apologetic expression.

James raised his eyebrows at Logan and then poked the bed a few times, wondering if Logan couldn't take a hint or if he was being weird about sitting on a bed together. "Why?"

"Because…" Logan took a step towards the bed and then stopped. "Because he needs to feel included, right?"

"Was it Kendall's idea?"

Logan shook his head. "No. Wait, hell, I don't know. I didn't think it was but who knows if Kendall was manipulating it all somehow."

James laughed. "Well…first, come sit down."

One more step and Logan halted again. "We should get back out there, we're missing the game."

A line about being 'where the action is' passed through James's mind but he let it go. "Is it even a team we care about?"

Logan shrugged. "Not really."

"Then sit. We'll figure out what we want to see, then we can make Carlos think it was his idea."

"That's…a good plan, actually," Logan said, head tilted to the side in thought. He took the last few steps needed to reach the bed and sat down next to James, though there was way too much space between them so James grabbed him and pulled him closer. "James!"

"What? You were too far away," James said, then leaned down and kissed Logan on the cheek.

"I thought we were looking up plays," Logan replied, face coloring a little.

"Hey, you haven't even turned the computer on yet."

"You won't give me five seconds so I can!"

James raised an eyebrow. "I'm not stopping you." Logan held up his hand—and James's along with it. "What, you need two hands to turn on a computer? I thought you were a genius, Logan."

Logan laughed at that, and James grinned back. "It's hard to open it one-handed, yeah." But James wasn't about to let go, so they had to work together and each use their free hand to get the laptop opened. Logan hit the power button and they waited for it to boot up.

"Is…is this still weird?" James asked, voice quiet. He really wanted Logan to say no, because…well, it was a little weird, being with Logan like this, but maybe 'weird' wasn't the word for it anymore. Maybe…it was just new?

It took a few seconds for Logan to answer. "Yeah, kind of."

Or maybe 'weird' was the right word.

"But…you still want to do this, right? Go on a date, I mean." James didn't know why he was even asking this; giving Logan the chance to back out was not a good idea. But at the same time maybe James needed confirmation of what Logan had said in the car about his feelings for James; of what Camille had said, too.

"Didn't you already ask me that once today?"

"…Oh. I did." James had kind of forgotten. It had been a long day.

"So why would I have changed my mind in the few hours since then?"

"I don't know," James said, eyebrows furrowed at Logan as he logged on to the computer. "You're…complicated."

Logan gave him a sidelong glance. "Complicated?"

James nodded. "Your brain works way faster than mine, and way more so like…you could change your mind a hundred times in just an hour."

After pulling up a web browser, Logan leaned back against the wall and looked at James. "I'm not going—okay, let me rephrase that. I told you yes, James. I told you I would go on a date with you, and I'm not going to go back on that. Okay?"

"I don't want you going just because you think you have to, Logan. If you don't want to go just tell me."

"Wow, next time try saying that without pouting like a little kid who isn't getting what he wants for his birthday," Logan replied, one eyebrow raised.

"I am not pouting!"

"Yes you are. I want to go, James. Why would I have said yes if I didn't?"

"I don't know, because of my powers of Logan-persuasion?"

Logan blinked. "What website do we need to go to?"

James glanced at the computer screen, then at Logan. Then he smirked. "Kiss me and I'll tell you."

"What?" Logan asked, gaping.

"Hey, you said you want to go out with me, right? So that means you want to get tickets, and if you really want to then you'll kiss me so you can."

"That…is ridiculous, James."

"You kissed me earlier today."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Is it only in bathrooms that you'll kiss me? Or on couches? We can relocate if you want."

Logan made a frustrated sound and jerked his hand away from James's. Before James could frown about it, though, Logan was grabbing either side of his head and pulling him in for a rough, awkward-angle kiss. James grinned and returned it happily, arms snaking around Logan's back to hold him there.

But Logan broke the kiss all too soon, prying James's arms off of him and saying "There. Now what's the website?"

James sighed and told him, and before long he was wrapped up in telling Logan about the different plays and trying to steer him in the direction of one in particular.

"Dracula?" Logan glanced away from the screen, giving James a questioning look.

"Vampires are hot," James told him.

Logan bit his lip, and James's attention instantly went to his mouth. He was already starting to lean forward when Logan spoke again. "Not the old ones, James," he said, amusement in his tone.

"Hmm?" James flicked his gaze up to meet Logan's and saw that he was trying not to laugh.

"I mean, modern vampires are supposed to be hot or whatever, but this is Dracula. Basically the original vampire myth. It's a horror story, not some romance."

"Well that's good then, right? No one will think it's weird for us to go see it together," James said, crossing his arms.

"Yeah, but…"

"Unless you're scared." James smirked a little as he said it.

"It's just a play, James," Logan shot back immediately.

"So there's no problem, right?"

Logan glared at James for a second, then turned to glare at the screen. "Whatever, you're buying the tickets."

James scoffed. "Then you're buying dinner!"

"What?" Logan turned to him again, open-mouthed. "You always pay for things when you take a girl out!"

"I do not!"

"…You don't?"

James shook his head. "You never know how a girl's gonna react when you try to pay for things on a date." He shuddered at some particularly horrid memories.

"Hmm," Logan said, almost thoughtfully.

"Besides," James added, moving in close to Logan's ear to say the rest, "you're not a girl."

"But I was still the one who got asked out," Logan countered, his voice strained.

"That means I'm financially responsible for you?"

"Doesn't it?"



James chuckled. "You really don't date much, do you?"

"You know I don't," Logan answered with a scowl.

"Hey." James hugged him from the side, setting his chin on Logan's shoulder. "I'll buy the tickets, you can get dinner, and I'll get you popcorn if you want it, okay?"

Logan bit his lip again, but this time a small laugh escaped. "They don't have popcorn at plays, James."

"What? That's dumb!"

James saw the movement of Logan's arm, then felt a hand patting his head. "Hey, if we're going to buy these online we'll need a credit card. Think Mama Knight will let us use hers?"

"I dunno," James said with a shrug, not moving away from Logan. "Let's ask after we get Carlos to tell us what a great idea this play is."

"Okay," Logan agreed, and his hand moved to run slowly down James's cheek. "You're gonna have to move, you know."

James made a non-committal sound and turned his head to lay his other cheek against Logan's shoulder, kissing Logan's palm on the way.

The position he was in wasn't super-comfortable for James and he figured it probably wasn't for Logan either. But Logan didn't say anything, just opened a new tab on the web browser to check his e-mail or something.

"Hey," James said after a moment, "you should play that one game."

"What game?"

"You know, that one you used to play when we were kids. With the little boxes and the numbers and the bombs." Logan laughed but went along with it, and a minute later was trying to explain the game to James again. It didn't make much more sense now than it had years ago—it sounded like there was math involved and that instantly made it a game James wanted nothing to do with, if you could even call it a game to begin with—so it didn't take long before James stopped watching the screen and started watching Logan.

James was so close that when he looked up at Logan's face it was barely in focus but he could still see the concentration there, the intelligence in his pretty eyes as he tried to figure out his next move. And then there was the way Logan's mouth moved as he talked about numbers and flags and right-clicking and other things that weren't nearly as interesting as how his lips quirked up at the corners or those perfect teeth of his…

James couldn't decide which he liked to watch more, Logan's mouth or his eyes, but he did know that before long just watching wasn't enough. He reached a hand up to run one finger lightly against Logan's bottom lip and Logan went completely still, his mouth open like he'd been frozen in the middle of a word. Maybe he had been; James had stopped listening a while ago.

"I like your mouth," James said, almost as a whisper. "And…the rest of your face, too."

Okay, it wasn't exactly the smoothest line ever, certainly not up to his usual standards, but it got the point across, right?

He lifted his head from Logan's shoulder and used the hand still on Logan's face to turn him so they were looking at each other. Logan was a little wide-eyed, maybe nervous, but James caught the movement as he licked his lips. Without breaking eye contact James ran his thumb across Logan's mouth, slowly. Logan pursed his lips and seemed to be hiding a smile.

"What?" James asked, not sure if he should be amused or maybe even offended.

"Nothing, that…tickled."

"Oh." James smiled, Logan smiled back, and then James closed the tiny bit of distance between them to press their mouths together.

He didn't close his eyes, though, and neither did Logan, and…it wasn't the first time James had kissed someone with his eyes open but this didn't make him feel as self-conscious as it always had before. It was still weird, but in kind of a cool way, and watching Logan watch him made James sort of smile into the kiss which seemed to make Logan do it back and it was just fun.

James was trying to figure out how to make it even more fun—the laptop had to go, first off—when there was a knock at the door and Logan nearly bolted off of the bed. He did put some distance between them, at least.

"Boys?" Mrs. Knight's voice called from the other side of the door. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," James answered after taking a second to make a face at Logan, who was blushing and looking panicked. It wasn't like they were trying to keep this a secret from anyone in the apartment, what was he getting all worked up for?

Mrs. Knight stepped into the room and closed the door behind her, raising an eyebrow at the two boys sitting on the bed.

"We were looking up play tickets!" Logan said hastily, and it took James a second to figure out why it sounded weird: Logan had said it alone. James hadn't felt any need to explain himself this time.

Logan made a move to get off of the bed but Mrs. Knight held a hand up. "Stop, you can stay there. I just want to talk with you boys for a minute." To James's surprise Logan actually stayed.

Once Mrs. Knight had settled into Kendall's desk chair she looked at them, and James started to feel some panic himself. This wasn't just a talk; it was a talk, and those were never fun or cool or anything good.

"So," she began with a smile, "you two have figured out what you're going to go see on your date?"

It was a simple enough question but both of them seemed to have been scared into silence. James mentally cursed Kendall for insisting on telling his mom about the date in the first place. It hadn't sounded like such a bad idea at the time but he could strangle Kendall for it now.

"Logan?" Mrs. Knight prompted.

"Um, uh, yeah, looks like it," he squeaked. James couldn't even enjoy Logan being all flustered because there was a mom talk to worry about. Stupid Kendall.

"We need to borrow your credit card," James heard himself say.

When her eyes widened in surprise Logan added "James will give you the money!"

Mrs. Knight smiled again. "Guys, relax. This isn't going to be painful, okay?" James really didn't believe that even a little. "If you need to use my card to get your tickets we can work that out in a minute. First…we need to discuss some house rules now that you two are…"

"It's just one date!"

Okay, that got James's attention enough for him to scowl at Logan. "It might not be," he said.

"What?" Logan asked, turning to look at him with a confused/surprised/mildly terrified expression.

"It might not be just one," James repeated slowly. It was not a difficult sentence to understand, but Logan's comprehension was never as high when he was freaking out about something.

"Either way, boys," Mrs. Knight went on, getting them to both look back at her, "we need to go over a few things. I know I've established some rules about having girls in the apartment, and I should have revised that a few weeks ago to include rules about having boys over as well, but I wanted to give both of you time to come to terms with…everything on your own first. Once I heard about this date I knew it was time to talk, but James was so busy preparing for his audition since then there hasn't been a good time before now."

James blinked and tried to shrink against the wall. Or just disappear into it entirely. This was way more uncomfortable than that little talk he'd had with Mrs. Knight after she caught him and Logan kissing that first time. Maybe it was because Logan was right there next to him now?

Logan was the first one to say anything. "Mrs. Knight I don't think—"

"Logan," she said, cutting him off, and James appreciated his effort at least. "Let me say first that I do trust you boys. This isn't about that, at all. I just want to make some things clear, and make sure you two are both…well informed about how to keep yourselves safe and healthy."

"OhmyGod." Logan's voice sounded small and sort of choked. "Really, really, Mrs. Knight, the Internet is—"

"Oh, I know what 'the Internet is,'" she said with a raised eyebrow. "And as long as you're in the right places on the Internet that's fine, but there's a lot of misinformation out there. In fact…hmm, how about I give you the addresses to some sites they talk about in the parenting magazines and then you can do your own research? As long as you promise to actually read them."

James thought about that for a second and asked "Can Logan do the research and then just tell me about it?"

"James!" Logan said, sounding…scandalized?

James glanced over to see Logan giving him a 'what the hell, you're supposed to be on my side' look. "What? You like doing research!"

Logan just gaped at him in a horrified sort of way.

"I'll give you both the sites," Mrs. Knight said. "If you don't want to do the reading yourself then I want you to come talk to me, okay? Most importantly, guys, remember that no one—including each other—is allowed to pressure you into anything you don't want to do, and you need to take the same precautions when you're with other boys as you do with girls. And what I told all of you boys before still stands: if you feel uncomfortable buying your own condoms I'll be happy to get them for you. I just want you to be safe. Okay?"

Apparently James's attempts to become one with the wall or the bed or the air itself hadn't been successful because Mrs. Knight was looking at him, and at Logan too so at least he hadn't managed to disappear either. If James had to go through this better that Logan had to suffer with him.

"Okay?" she repeated when James and Logan remained silent.

"Yeah, sure, Mrs. Knight," James managed, his voice barely recognizable.

"Yes, ma'am," Logan said, squeaky again.

"Good," she said, and her smile seemed real but James got the impression she was ready for this to be over with, too. "Okay, that just leaves a few rules for the apartment. One, no one will be switching rooms. I know Logan is an adult now and James, you're almost 18, but high schoolers who are romantically involved will not be sharing a bedroom in this home. Got it?"

James hadn't even thought about sharing a room with Logan before, but the idea was…intriguing. And he saw a loophole. "What about when we graduate?" He heard a little gasp next to him but didn't bother to look at Logan.

Mrs. Knight raised her eyebrows. "We can revisit it then, I guess. Although I still don't know how I'd feel about it with Katie living here." Okay, that James could understand. "The rest of it is just the same as the guidelines with girls—watch the PDA when Katie's home, be aware of who's home in general, remember that the bedrooms don't have locking doors…be smart, be safe, be respectful. I think that's it, unless you guys have any questions?"

James shook his head violently and could practically feel a breeze from Logan doing the same.

"Okay then, dinner is in about 20 minutes so we can talk about the credit card then." She smiled at them, stood up and walked out of the room.

The two of them sat in an awkward silence for several moments after she left. Finally James said "Wanna make out some more?" and Logan laughed, sounding nervous and relieved at the same time. "Hey, that was a serious question!" James added, indignant.

"I know it was," Logan said. "Although I can't imagine how you could possibly want to after that conversation."

James shrugged. "I always want to make out."

"Hey, she's right, though." Logan's voice had gone quiet and serious. "No matter what happens with…" James saw his hand gesture vaguely between them. "With us, I guess. No matter who you're with, guy or girl or whoever…be careful, James, okay?"

How was he supposed to take that? Or respond to it? It reminded him of when he was leaving for his date the weekend before. "You sound like Kendall now."

Logan let out a soft chuckle. "Do I?"

"Well…not exactly," James said, reconsidering. "Kendall doesn't care what I do as long as I'm safe or whatever, but you don't want me having sex at all."

"I never said that!"

"No, Carlos did, and are you gonna try to tell me he was wrong?"

Logan sighed, and when he answered he sounded reluctant to do so. "I just didn't want you doing anything before you're ready for it, James. I didn't want you sleeping with someone you'd just met."

"Hmm." James didn't fully buy that, but he figured it wasn't the time to press the issue. "But anyway, she wasn't just talking to me, you know," he said instead, trying to return Logan's concern. "I don't see how you could possibly want anyone other than me but either way—well, you're the smart one, right? So you know. But uh, you should totally research those websites and tell me the important stuff. Or the fun stuff."

They hadn't really looked at each other since Mrs. Knight left the room, but James glanced over at Logan then to see him glancing back, like he had an idea he was trying to figure out the likelihood of. James was preparing to deny anything Logan asked—No, I'm not nervous about having sex, not with guys or girls or you or anyone and of course I know exactly what to do in all of those situations, who do you even think you're talking to?—but all Logan said was "We should go talk to Carlos now."

Then he kissed James on the cheek and stood up, carrying the laptop out of the room with him.

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February 2013


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